MAKING HISTORY: Lillian Secelela Madeje, one of the advocates of youth empowerment.
Former president of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete says African leaders must turn rhetoric into reality and commitment into progress.

He was speaking in his capacity as the special envoy for the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, an initiative to complement the UN's sustainable development goal of ensuring quality education for all by 2030.

Kikwete, the East Africa statesman, has inspired a new generation of leaders who have taken it upon themselves to ensure this dream is attained.

Among these advocates of youth empowerment and economic emancipation is Kikwete’s compatriot, Lillian Secelela Madeje.

Madeje is a co-founder and managing director of Ekihya, a consulting company that works hand in hand with businesses in building processes and systems to result in greater efficiency in their operation.

This is in addition to being a partner in Bits & Bytes, an innovation and technology company taking Tanzania by storm.

With the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa in Durban, South Africa now over, Madeje still believes Africa has a great part to play in setting the course for its development.

She took part in the event held under the theme, “Achieving Inclusive Growth: Responsive and Responsible Leadership”.

It is appropriate that Madeje, like Kikwete, is a proponent of inclusivity and responsible leadership.

She made history at the WEF on Africa 2015 (held in Cape Town) among 80 young Africans, representing 40 countries and 60 Global Shapers' Community hubs, becoming the largest youth delegation at a WEF meeting.

“WEF Africa affords us the opportunity to ensure a positive trend in the development of Africa and Tanzania in general,” she said.

“Having a seat on such high-level discussions on how private sector, technology and innovation, can play a part in bringing about the much-needed revolution in our African nations.

"WEF Africa provides a much-needed meeting that helps to align the private sector players in the African market,” she added.

According to the latest (ninth) edition of the Tanzania Economic Update, released by the World Bank Group, Tanzania looks to be performing relatively well.

It is outpacing its fellow regional counterparts at a steady pace of nearly 7% real gross domestic product growth rate, although shy of the original forecast of 7.3% due to an unexpected dip that the country faced last year.

One of the recommendations provided by the report is an increased effort by the government to put in place supportive policies that will promote private sector investment – an area that WEF Africa fits perfectly into the agenda.

Madeje has amassed more than four years of experience in the human resource industry in Tanzania and has had the privilege of working on various projects that link technology with development.

“Being passionate about the power that entrepreneurs have in transforming the economies of nations, I decided to establish a boutique strategy and management consulting company.

"It works hand in hand with organisations with the aim of being the premier, sought-after company in developing people, and putting in place processes and systems with the aim of realising their full economic potential,” Madeje said.

Madeje has experience in qualitative research having consulted with a vast number of organisations. Such capability has been instrumental in the success of her business.

“In our day-to-day operations, we have had the opportunity of working with foreign investors who are looking at entering the Tanzanian market and have provided them with research and on-the-ground presence,” she said.

With more than 60% of Tanzania’s population having access to a financial account, up from 11% eight years ago, Madeje has attributed the leapfrog on financial inclusion in one of East Africa’s bigger economies to technology, which has fuelled an upsurge in mobile money transfer transactions.

Innovation and technology

“With the WEF standing for the role of innovation and technology, we see a great need for these pertinent discussions on how, as African nations, we can leapfrog into a digital revolution that will result in greater financial inclusion of citizens across the African nations,” she added.

From Dar-es-Salaam to South Africa, Madeje has served as a moderator and facilitator in various events such as the ONE Campaign, Africa Prosperity Index Report 2016, and more recently a key panel discussion on Collaboration for Africa’s Transformation.

Madeje serves on the board of Global Entrepreneurship Week in Tanzania where she has successfully steered the organisation’s events for three years.

She is also an ambassador for the Jali Project, which aims to educate the girl child about menstrual health, and is curator for the Dar-es-Salaam Hub of the Global Shaper Forum, which is an initiative of the WEF. – CAJ News